Some South LA residents express uncertainty with billion dollar development

South LA residents are weighing the benefits of a proposed $1.2 billion development that promises to add condos, a hotel, a grocery store and hundreds of permanent jobs to the community.

About 60 community members came to the South Central Neighborhood Council’s town hall meeting to voice their opinion on The Reef Project. The project is an expansion around the current Reef building, which serves as a space for small creative businesses. Parking lots cover the rest of the two-block area bordered by Hill Street, Washington Boulevard, Main Street and 21st Street.

Attorney Edgar Khalatian said that the REEF Project will support affordable housing in South LA | Photo by Rachel Cohrs

Attorney Edgar Khalatian said the REEF Project will support affordable housing. | Photo by Rachel Cohrs

The development also would add a pharmacy, retail space, a bank and open pedestrian spaces.

If the project is approved, it is projected to create 2,758 temporary construction jobs and 751 permanent part- and full-time positions, most of which would be in the hotel. Thirty percent of the construction and hotel jobs would be filled by people living within a five-mile radius. An apprenticeship program is being developed through Los Angeles Trade Technical College to provide training for local residents to qualify for the positions.

Out of dozens of resident questions submitted, a central question emerged: What’s in it for us? Residents at the meeting on Sept. 19 at Santee High School voiced concerns that the project wouldn’t cater to their needs.

“They are trying to make us feel like we are privileged that they are coming here, but they should be coming in on our terms and asking what we want it to look like,” said Adriana Cabrera, education representative for the Central-Alameda Neighborhood Council and co-founder of Empowering Youth in South Central.

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